Test Soil now for Spring and Summer Gardening

Spring soil sampling for grass green up and summer vegetable crops.

Now is the time to test your soil to be ready for spring and summer gardening.  UGA/COBB COUNTY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE can help you be prepared to get the most from your yard or garden.  Instructions are as follows:  

Soil Testing for Home Lawns, Gardens, and Wildlife Food Plots

Steps in Soil Sampling

Recommendations about when and how to apply nutrients are only as good as the soil sample submitted for analysis. To obtain a representative soil sample, the following steps are useful: identify sampling locations (zones), determine the sampling depths, use the right sampling tools, sample at the right time, and handle the samples accordingly.

1. Sampling Locations

Area divided according to vegetation and soil characteristics. Yellow dots indicate sampling points.

Map out the area where the plants are to be grown or are presently growing. This will help in record keeping and ensure that the soil is taken from throughout the entire area. Divide the area such that each soil sample represents one plant type or condition. An area that has been divided according to obvious differences in plant types, plant performance, soil types, and drainage is shown in Figure 1.

  • Use a zigzag approach when taking samples. Collect 8-10 soil samples from each location (zone) as shown in Fig. 1.
  • For trees and shrubs, take soil samples from six to eight spots around the dripline of the plants.

2. Sampling Depth

The depth of sampling depends on the type of plants being grown.

  • For lawns, sample to a depth of 4 inches.
  • For gardens, ornamentals, mixed fruit trees, and wildlife plots, collect sample to a depth of 6 inches.

3. Sampling Time

Soil sampling should be done well in advance of planting or spring green-up. This allows adequate time for sample analysis, data interpretation, and fertilizer and lime application.

4. Sampling Tools

Use clean sampling tools and containers to avoid contaminating the soil sample. Never use tools or containers that have been used for fertilizer or lime. Tools like trowels, shovels, spades, hand probes or hand augers may be used to collect samples.

5. Sampling Procedures

Clear the ground surface of grass thatch or mulch. Using a trowel, push the tool to the desired depth into the soil.

Remove grass thatch or mulch before sampling.

Soil sampling with a trowel.

Push the handle forward, with the spade still in the soil to make a wide opening. Then, as shown in Figure 3, cut a thin slice from the side of the opening that is of uniform thickness, approximately ¼ inch thick and two inches in width, extending from the top of the ground to the depth of the cut. Collect from several locations. Combine and mix them in a plastic bucket to avoid metal contamination. Take about a pint (two cups)of the mixed soil and place it the UGA soil sample bag or clean plastic bag.  

Bring your sample to us at 678 South Cobb Drive and we will help you from there. The cost per bag is $6.00 (exact cash or check).  Within 7-10 days you will receive your report for amending your soil to best suit your crop (grass, vegetables, ornamental shrubs and more).  You may list up to 5 crops per bag.




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